Welcome to the Queensland Parliament web site - accessibility access keys available by clicking here or by using access key 9, sitemap available under access key 2Skip to Main Content or by using access key 0View Access KeysGo to sitemapGo to useful linksGo to contact usGo to latest sitting weekGo to current members listView Access KeysRemote Access


Walsh, William Henry

View print friendly version


Birth Date: 18 December 1823 (Milton, Berkshire, England)

Death Date: 5 April 1888 (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Parents: Charles Walsh and Elizabeth

Family: Elizabeth Brown at Paterson, New South Wales on 20 February 1857, 4 sons, 3 daughters

Religion: Church of England


Arrived in Sydney in 1844 and gained pastoral experience with David Perrier at Bathurst; Stocked McIntyre River Station for Perrier in 1847; Opened another station for Perrier, Griffiths, Fanning & Co. of Syndey; later acquired it himself; Partnered Fanning in seven runs totalling 115,200 acres in Wide Bay, Burnett and Port Curtis.; Invested in coal and minerals

Parliamentary Representation:

House Party Electorate From To Elected/Departure Reason
Assembly NONE Maryborough 1 Feb 1865 4 Nov 1873 By-election
Assembly NONE Warrego 4 Nov 1873 12 Dec 1878
Council NONE Legislative Council 20 Feb 1879 4 Apr 1888 Died in Office

Other Seats: Represented Leichhardt in the NSW Legislative Assembly, 15 June 1859 to 10 December 1859

Parliamentary Service

Description From To
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly 6 Jan 1874 20 Jul 1876
Secretary for Public Works 3 May 1870 10 Jul 1873

Additional Information

Notes: In August 1850 Walsh joined MC O'Connell, W Forster and others in punishing Aboriginals for the murder of Gregory Blaxland junior. A subsequent bitter fued led to the dismissal of native police commandant F Walker and was followed by public quarrels with Edward Deas Thomson, AG Maclean, Sir George Bowen and AE Halloran. The conflict revealed Walsh as nasty, devious and highly egocentric. He opposed the separation of Queensland and for a time refused to accept nomination to the Legislative Council or to stand for election to the Legislative Assembly. He strenuously opposed Brisbane as the capital, and endeavoured to have the seat of government moved to Gladstone. Walsh opposed plans for the first railway on the grounds that the colony was not yet wealthy enough and that outlying districts would be paying for the benefit of a favoured group in the south-east. In 1865 he was returned as the member for the new electorate of Maryborough. As fate would have it, in 1870 he became Secretary for Public Works in charge of railways. Walsh's administration of the railways brought him great credit. He carried through many reforms and was responsible for extensive reorganisation. In consequence of differences with his colleagues, he resigned from office on 10 July 1873. As reported by Bernays, Walsh was the only Speaker who ever used a gavel - `his irritable tapping of his desk with his little ivory mallet are familiar remembrances'. Unable to secure proper respect, he resigned suddenly on 20 July 1876. In 1878 he failed to win Logan and the following year was appointed to the Legislative Council. Walsh was appointed one of the Executive Commissioners for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition and spent a couple of years in London in 1885-86.  He died as a result of a tragic accident: he was run over by a hansom cab

Sources: Image courtesy of John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg:199125; Brisbane Courier, 6 April 1888; Bernays, Charles Arrowsmith, Queensland Politics During Sixty (1859-1919) Years, (Brisbane: A.J. Cummings, Government Printer, 1920); Denholm, David, Gibbney, HJ, 'Walsh, William Henry (1823-1888)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, V.6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp 348-349; Parliament of New South Wales website, www.parliament.nsw.gov.au; Waterson, DB, Biographical Register of the Queensland Parliament: 1860-1929, 2nd revised edition (Sydney: Casket Publications, 2001)

[Last Modified: Tuesday, 18 July 2017]